Ranking the Phillies RIGHT NOW! – Phillies Nation

Ranking the Phillies RIGHT NOW!

(This post is from one of our finest commenters on Phillies Nation, Don M. You can catch him in the comments section almost daily, giving his take on all things Phillies.)

Right around the time when Pitchers and Catchers (or in the Phillies case, ACES and Catchers) reported to Spring Training, MLB Network began listing their “Top 100 RIGHT NOW” player rankings. The very nature of the topic is to start debate, as there is no clear right or wrong answer. I believe that MLB Network had seven Phillies on their countdown: Shane Victorino #82, Cole Hamels #71, Roy Oswalt #51, Cliff Lee #31, Chase Utley #26, Ryan Howard #25, and Roy Halladay #2.

I never quite found out what their criteria were… but Mariano Rivera was #11 overall!?? So you know it was kind of a joke to begin with.

In talking with Pat Gallen, I mentioned that it would be interesting to get everyone’s take on the Top 10 Phillies – RIGHT NOW, so Pat told me to give it a shot. Where I would rank our Phillies, if starting a team, looking at their possible impact in the next 3 seasons?

Here is what I came up with:

  • 1. Roy Halladay
  • 2. Cliff Lee
  • 3. Cole Hamels
  • 4. Ryan Howard
  • 5. Chase Utley
  • 6. Roy Oswalt
  • 7. Placido Polanco
  • 8. Jimmy Rollins
  • 9. Carlos Ruiz
  • 10. Ryan Madson

Roy Halladay -Best pitcher in the game, and from the looks of it, should be able to continue dominating for years to come. Halladay was a very easy choice for #1.

Cliff Lee/ Cole Hamels -I understand that my Cole Hamels selection will catch a lot of criticism, but he’s got better career numbers than Cliff Lee in ERA (3.53 vs. 3.85), WHIP (1.18 vs. 1.26), Batting Average Against (.242 vs. 260), and K’s per 9 (8.94 vs. 6.93). Hamels is also 5 years younger. I see Cole being in Cy Young contention for the next decade or so, and as his baseball-smarts catch up to his talent, he has a chance to be SCARY-GOOD very, very soon.

Cliff Lee came back to Philly as one of the top pitchers in baseball. Where do you rank him? (Photo: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE)

Cliff Lee has the better postseason numbers, and thus, a slightly higher ranking, but unlike the rest of our pitching staff, Cole is seemingly still on the way up. If we were saying the next 5-10 years, Hamels would be my #2, but with the time limit at 3 seasons, it’s Lee by a hair.

Ryan Howard/ Chase Utley – Chase doesn’t have the power numbers that Ryan Howard has, but potentially has the ability to switch positions at some point is his career if needed. 1b, LF … and yes Howard is a first baseman, but I don’t know how long he’ll hold up – being a big framed guy. He’s been doing a lot to work on flexibility and weight loss the past few seasons… so we’ll see. I’ve stated before that I think Ryan Howard is a definite Hall of Famer, and Chase Utley still has work to do… but starting a team today? It’s a tough call, and if it wasn’t for the recent injuries of Utley, I would probably give him the nod. You just can’t help but consider the fact that his all-out play might be taking its toll on his body.

Roy Oswalt – There is no questioning what he’s accomplished in his career, but from what we’ve heard lately, “Little Roy” only has a few years before he wants to call it quits. I think we’ve seen the best of him, but a declining Roy Oswalt is still better than most. (I’m among the guilty in not giving Oswalt the credit he deserves; he’s actually got a lower Career ERA (3.18 vs. 3.32), identical WHIP (1.18), and a slightly lower Batting Average Against (.252 vs. .254) than Halladay)!!! If we knew Oswalt wanted to keep pitching for at least 3 more years, he would be ranked much higher!

Placido Polanco – Polly was one of the most difficult for me to rank. He doesn’t do any one thing to make him stand out, but instead it’s all the little things. He isn’t as great a defender as Rollins, but he is a better all-around hitter. Also, I would be willing to bet that Polanco could play every single position on the field, if needed. People hate the term “professional hitter,” but that to me most perfectly describes what Placido Polanco is. Gun-to-my-head and had to pick one player to simply get on base?? I’m probably taking Polanco.

Jimmy Rollins – (My all-time favorite Phillies player). All those games on that bad Vet turf, a few injuries the past year. Rollins is prime defender at one of the most important positions on the diamond. I wonder how many years he has left and if he can stay at Short Stop the whole time? Again, in the next 3 years, I think Rollins is still great enough with the glove, and good enough with the bat to warrant this ranking.

Carlos Ruiz – You have to love the way Chooch has developed into one of the best game-callers, and defensive catchers in baseball… his bat arrives when the pressure is on. He’s a big game player, and huge reason the Phillies have succeeded over the past few years. (Many will say he could be ranked higher, but with the talent of our pitching staff, I believe that they could do pretty well calling their own games, etc. …there is no doubt that Chooch enhances their abilities though!)

Ryan Madson – Has developed into one of the best setup men in all of baseball, he’s got good enough stuff to change that title to “one of the best CLOSERS in all of baseball.” Ryan looked shaky in the closer’s role earlier in his career, but he seems to thrive under pressure –he’s a big game pitcher, and possible successor to Brad Lidge. (I can’t imagine the pressure of the 9th inning is anything greater than that of the Setup Role in the postseason?) I believe Madson can make the transition.

Juuuust a bit outside – Honorable Mentions:

Shane Victorino – I’m clearly not the biggest Victorino fan in the world, but his speed is Game Changing (HE JUST DOESN’T USE IT ENOUGH!!!). If he could learn how to freaking bunt, we could see a dangerous leadoff man with Gold Glove OF skills …but as long as Victorino would rather hit HRs than simply use his speed get on base, he stays off my list.

Domonic Brown – The Phillies scouts have been very smart with what players they want to keep, and who they think is expendable (i.e. Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, and Michael Taylor). There was NO chance that they were going to let Domonic Brown go, as they truly believe he’s got a chance to be great. A still-young, 5 tool player… lets hope he’s the real deal… and if that’s what the Front Office believe, I buy it! If this list was projecting more than 1, 2, 3 years away… I think Brown makes my list and some of the older guys (i.e. Polanco) would slide down.

I’ll be interested to see who everyone else picks… and just how bad my own selections were!

Let me have it!!.. DonM

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  1. yrsoprano

    March 2, 2011 at 7:59 am

    I still would have put Cole Hamels at 2. No disrespect to Lee, but Hamels won a championship which should count for something and I agree with the projection that he will be dominant for years to come. I don’t think Lee has been with the team long enough to be ahead of Cole who has been with the here for his whole career but that’s the way it always seems to go when anyone discusses Cole Hamels and his contribution to the Phillies.

  2. yrsoprano

    March 2, 2011 at 8:00 am

    * who has been here for his whole career

  3. Steve S

    March 2, 2011 at 8:16 am

    My list: Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Utley, Howard, Ruiz, Rollins, Madson, Oswalt, Victorino. Utley could be as high as #2 if he stays relatively injury-free, but we can’t count on that. Howard was tough to put as low as #5, he’s a former MVP and one of the best power hitters in the game, and I think too many fans take him for granted, but his defense is still below average (though improving) and he may start to decline especially by year 3. Ruiz I think is solid at #6, I don’t know if there’s another catcher I’d rather have handling this pitching staff behind the plate, and not only is he no longer a liability with a bat but is actually becoming more of an asset in that department. I only have Oswalt as low as #8 because of age and injury history, if he manages to stay healthy for the next 3 years he could be higher. Age and injury potential are the same reasons I left Polanco off the list, he’d be 10b to Victorino’s 10a.

  4. Brooks

    March 2, 2011 at 8:36 am

    I think that a terrific showing in the post season has to be the key reason for the love affair with Cliff Lee. I think he is and has been a terrific pitcher but in rank and order of my favorite Phillies on this team, which goes along with my perception of their impact on the team this year (and for years to come if the team reamains intact):
    Ryan Howard-if Jimmy and co. get on base, Ryan will be in the lead for rbi, hr
    Cole Hamels-I truely think he is on track for terrific season and more to come
    Roy Halladay-Just an outstanding pitcher 18-20 wins
    Jimmy Rollins-his health and resurgance is so important this year
    Roy Oswalt-consistantly good 17-18 wins
    Utley-if we can get 135-140 games out of Chase, he will have a great impact
    Lee – I hope I’m wrong – 14-16 wins
    Cholly- what can you say, he just fits this team
    Victorino- just concentrate on getting on base and running! Will also boost Howards numbers
    Ruiz-Chooch is undervalued – fit for this team
    Poly-not a great impact but he can be relied upon to move things around on offense (135 games?)
    Brown-if Brown can live up to his potential, his impact would be an incredible boost to this O
    Ibby-any chance he can hit .280 or better and 20 hrs or better? meh
    I actually do have a problem putting Lee that high. I am predicting that of the 4 aces we have, Lee wins the least of the 4 (14-16).

  5. sully4nd

    March 2, 2011 at 8:40 am

    I think Lidge will be gone by the end of next year if not sooner, as buch as I hope I’m wrong. We’re going to be in the market for a closer in the near future.

  6. Steve S

    March 2, 2011 at 8:43 am

    For myself, Lee’s 2009 postseason performance was definitely a factor in ranking him #2, but his 22 win Cy Young campaign in 2008 and his absolutely ungodly strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2010 (185 Ks vs 18 walks, those are videogame-esque numbers) seemed like good enough reasons to put him just slightly ahead of Hamels.

  7. Steve S

    March 2, 2011 at 8:45 am

    And @Brooks, it’s ironic that you’re using wins to gauge the pitching staff even though a mediocre win-loss record is one of the biggest (and certainly most fallible) reasons that some people criticize Hamels.

  8. yrsoprano

    March 2, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Steve, your post reminds me of a Mets game last year with Hamels vs Dickey and Hamels broke up the no-hitter. It’s a mystery as to why the team will not score behind Hamels thus costing him wins and respect. All he can do is keep the team in the game and he does. I am positive Cole would love to win 20 games and he has the stuff to do it.

  9. Steve S

    March 2, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Whoa, I’m not criticizing Hamels at all, I think he’s a great pitcher and he has the potential to be one of the best, and I don’t think I’m criticizing him by ranking him just barely behind two Cy Young winners.

  10. Brooks

    March 2, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Steve, our hope in Hamels is that he wants to become Lee or better and he is still 26 years old, look at his progression, composure and grit- Coles value to the team will peak this year if there is an offense to back him –

  11. bfo_33

    March 2, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Don, I think your list is dead on…for 2011. Looking at 3yrs, there is a lot of optimism in the predictions. Based upon the current roster, I’d put the following list together:

    Cole Hamels – Not an injury risk, appears to be getting better – will see a Cy Young in the next three years
    Roy Halladay – pitches to contact, keeps the ball low, great mechanics – will maintain over 3 years
    Dom Brown – Will probably have a rough 2011, but may be one of the best players in the game in 2013
    Carlos Ruiz – A poor defensive catcher reduces the pitcher’s selection when guys are on base. You can throw a breaking ball with a guy on third late in the game, and not worry whether he’ll come up with it.
    Ryan Madson – will be an elite closer
    Cliff Lee – Dominating when healthy, but may only break 200 innings once in the next three years.
    Ryan Howard – Dedicated to staying in shape, will continue to crush right handed pitching, expect improved contact, but power drop against lefties.
    Joe Blanton – Will be steady Joe.
    Utley – The bat will still be there, but expect him in the outfield by year 3, probably won’t top 145 starts again.
    Ben Francisco – Expect 0.280 BA/25 HR/85 RBIs each year for the next three – will be a solid fielder/rh bat.
    Polanco – Great #2 hitter, will probably be in a utility role, possible as soon as 2012.
    Rollins – Solid defense will continue, but will be a #7 hitter by 2012.
    Oswalt – If the Phils get a ring this year, expect him to retire at the end of the season.
    Victorino – Hasn’t learned to use his speed yet, don’t expect to. As his speed goes, his bad lines to balls will be exposed.

  12. Manny

    March 2, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I pretty much agree with Don’s list, and I’m glad he didn’t rank Chooch way up high (might be tempting, but he did have a career year last season –I expect some regression since his batting average in 2010 was 42 points higher than in his career. I love him for his defense/catching but I’m definitely not expecting 2010-like numbers.

    I’d move Madson several spots up to No.5 or 6 and call it a day.

  13. Don M

    March 2, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I posted earlier this offseason that I think Carlos Ruiz just might be the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER to our success in 2011 …. when he’s on his game, and he’s healthy .. he makes us so much better as a team.

    That said.. in terms of overall rankings .. I think we could probably have Todd Pratt behind home plate again this season, and our Big Four would still have amazing seasons..

    But Ruiz makes them all more comfortable, he blocks pitches well, calls games well . . . they are comfortable throwing to him, and comfort on the mound is a huge thing!

    when I originally made my list … I had Madson at 6 … but I asked Pat how long “RIGHT NOW” meant .. beacuse without a realistic timeframe , Oswalt would be off the list, and Domonic Brown could be #4, etc..

    So over the next 3 seasons… if Madson is up to #5 or #6 .. who would you move.. or just move everyone else down 1 spot??

    • Manny

      March 2, 2011 at 10:51 am

      I see you what you’re saying. It goes back to the point you made about MLB Network’s “RIGHT NOW” mantra, but I think they looked at players’ performance in the past two or three years and their 2011 projections to determine who’s best at this point in time… whereas here you introduced the “next 3-year” idea, which basically adds more weight to the projection part of the “formula.” Hence why I think Madson should move up in the list.

      So if you say RIGHT NOW and right now only ala MLB Network-style, then yes, Madson would be lower and Oswalt, Polanco would be higher up. But in the next 3 years overall, I suspect Madson will be higher than both of them. I’d also bump Howard all the way to 2nd place.

      ANYWAY I’m rambling. So to answer your question, yea.. I’d move everyone else down one spot to make room for Mad dog.

      Hope to see more posts from you on here!

      • Manny

        March 2, 2011 at 10:53 am

        “I’d also bump Howard all the way to 2nd place. ” >>under the RIGHT NOW concept from MLB Network.

        Sorry for the confusion.

      • Don M

        March 2, 2011 at 11:22 am

        Yea i only caught bits & pieces of their RIGHT NOW episodes, …and I believe that the two guys they had discussing the selections, were not actually the ones that voted on the players??

        I know that they had some VERY questionable selections . . . like A’s pitcher Trevor Cahill ranked higher than Clayton Kershaw ??? Derek Jeter ranked #46 …. with his decline overall skills both Offensively and Defensively .. there were a few picks that were just jokes .. but again, I wasn’t comletely sure what they were using as their criteria

        But again, there are no right or wrong answers I just wanted to see what everyone thought about our own guys and the impact they have – or are expected to have

      • Manny

        March 2, 2011 at 12:01 pm

        I agree, Don. Cahill over Kershaw? WTF are they smoking. You can make a strong case for Kershaw being a Top 10-15 pitcher RIGHT NOW.

        Anyway, they did specify how they put together the list, and if I recall correctly it was:
        -2009 performance
        -2010 performance
        -2011 projected performance
        -SOMETHING ELSE I’m forgetting

  14. R.C. Cowie

    March 2, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Good job, Don M. If we are ever looking for talent to contribute to the site, I won’t have to search for.

  15. R.C. Cowie

    March 2, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Good job, Don M. If we are ever looking for talent to contribute to the site, I won’t have to search far.

  16. betasigmadeltashag

    March 2, 2011 at 10:27 am

    I think that if you are talking about 3 years I do not think Poly plays every day past next year, if at all and I think roy o will be gone after this year or next so I would have to put Vic and Ben Fran on the list

  17. Don M

    March 2, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Ben Fran doesn’t even have a definite spot yet… he’s currently the equivelent of Jose Contreras in the bullpen …
    so I don’t think he should get a mention .. maybe next year because i do think that if Francisco gets regular playing time he will have a big season . . The point about Polanco maybe not playing everyday in the next few seasons is a valid one …but I think this guy needs baseball to live, and he’ll play until there isn’t a job for him. And there is almost always a job for a #2 hitter, with great bat control and the ability to play anywhere on the diamond.

    I DO NOT think that Cole Hamels will win a Cy Young award in the next 3 seasons… but I think he’ll be in the Top 3/5/10 a bunch of times . . the NL just has way too much GREAT pitching right now .. Halladay, Lee, Lincecum, Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Clayton Kershaw, Roy Oswalt, …. Wainwright when healthy, Johan Santana when healthy , etc.

    so just to be in the discussion is as good as winning the award … the award is based on people’s individual votes, and they do play favorites, etc . . but I expect Hamels to be among the league leaders in all the important categories .. Wins, Ks, ERA, WHIP, etc.. over the next few seasons!

  18. Steve S

    March 2, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Where does Danys Baez rank? #643?

    • yrsoprano

      March 2, 2011 at 11:22 am

      That’s a bit high for Baez… LOL

  19. The Dipsy

    March 2, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Don – I agree with your rankings from 1-10. Nicely one. Just so you know, MLB’s criteria was VERY vague and open to many different interpretations. I think “Right Now” is right this second. Would you rather have Buster Posey or Derek Jeter right this second? Posey was in the top 20, I believe. Mariano was high because he still might be the best closer in baseball in spite of his age. I didn’t think they were that bad, to be honest.

    The Dipsy

    • Don M

      March 2, 2011 at 11:37 am

      I couldn’t find the definite list of 20-1 … but here was the rest:

      100. Ardolis Chapman
      99. Carlos Santana
      98. G rady Sizemore
      97. Jacoby ellsbury
      96. Jose Valderde
      95. Elvis Andrus
      94. Torii Hunter
      93. Justin Morneau
      92. Vernon Wells
      91. Brian Roberts
      90. Michael Young
      89. Colby Rasmus
      88. Yadier Molina
      87. Scott Rolen
      86. Jason Bay
      85. Austin Jackson
      84. David Ortiz
      83. Vlad Guerrero
      82. Shane Victorino
      81. Jay Bruce
      80. Curtis Granderson
      79. Jose Reyes
      78. Justin Upton
      77. Nick Markakis
      76. Mike Stanton
      75. Rafeal Soriano
      74. Mark Reynolds
      73. Dan Haren
      72. Tim Hudson
      71. Cole Hamels
      70. Andrew Bailey
      69. Rickie Weekes
      68. Jason Heyward
      67. Nelson Cruz
      66. Martin Prado
      65. Matt Kemp
      64. Heath Bell
      63. Ian Kinsler
      62. Brandon Phillips
      61. Carlos Marmol
      60. Andrew McCutchen
      59. Johan Santana
      58. Jered Weaver
      57. Neflei Feliz
      56. Andre Ethier
      55. Clay Buchholz
      54. Matt Cain
      53. Victor Martinez
      52. Clayton Kershaw
      51. Roy Oswalt
      50. Jose Bautista
      49. Joakim Soria
      48. Adam Dunn
      47. Paul Konerko
      46. Derek Jeter
      45. Jayson Werth
      44. Brian Wilson
      43. Dan Uggla
      42. David Wright
      41. Brian McCann
      40. Trevor Cahill
      39. Ubando Jimenez
      38. Zack Greinke
      37. Dustin Pedroia
      36. Chris Carpenter
      35. Adrian Beltre
      34. Shi-Shoo Choo
      33. Josh Johnson
      32. Justin Verlander
      31. Cliff Lee
      30. Matt Holliday
      29. Prince Fielder
      28 David Price
      27. Ichiro Suzuki
      26. Chase Utley
      25. Ryan Howard
      24. Mark Teixeira
      23. Jon Lester
      22. Carl Crawford
      21. Alex Rodriguez

      • Manny

        March 2, 2011 at 11:57 am

        My biggest beef with this list was JOHN LESTER 23 and COLE HAMELS 71?!

        EXCUSE ME! Since 2009 counts as part of the formula, it makes sense that Hamels is ranked lower than Lester… but 50 spots down? Look at their career stats –they are essentially the same pitcher stat-wise. Eerily similar age, ERA, WHIP, Hamels with a way better K/BB ratio but worse HR ratio. Just see for yourself.

      • Don M

        March 2, 2011 at 12:10 pm

        overall I think their list is pretty good . .

        but the Trevor Cahill one bothered me the most . . . but I guess the fact that he had 18 WINS last year made him high on their list . . and Im assuming that Ruiz didn’t make it because ESPN, and now apparently MLB Network are only concerned with OFFENSIVE Catchers .. otherwise, Molina would be higher #88

  20. Publius

    March 2, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Pretty easy to rank, just look at 2010 WAR:

    Cliff Lee: 71
    Roy Halladay: 6.6
    Chase Utley: 5.2
    Roy O: 4.7
    Carlos Ruiz: 4.1
    Placido Polanco: 3.7
    Cole Hamels: 3.6
    Shane Victorino: 3.6
    Jimmy Rollins: 2.3

  21. GoofGas

    March 2, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Ruiz has got to rank ahead of J-Roll. Polanco and Oswalt.

    If any of them were to get hurt and be out for the season, it would be a tough pill to swallow, but they’d get past it.

    Losing Chooch for a full season? I can’t say the same.

  22. Lefty

    March 2, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Good article Don. My only gripe with the MLB Network was leaving Chooch off the list. You can’t convince me based on the last two seasons that he is not a top 100 right now player. I think they ranked something like 7 other catchers, it’s a travesty, and this year they’ll see how wrong they were.
    Anyway here’s mine-

    1- Doc
    2- Cole
    3- Lee
    4- Oswalt
    Since everyone agrees that the four aces are the reason our team has the best chance of anyone to win another WFC, why not list them first?
    Now a surprise-

    I go with those four because our defense up the middle is the crucial to the pitchers success.
    Now the key hitters
    As you can see my list is based on the present trend in MLB which suggests that the pitching and defense are more important right now than offense.
    It was very hard to leave several others off my top ten, especially Madson

  23. Chuck

    March 2, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Don, this is a GREAT piece. I agree with the list ..(I MIGHT have put Chooch a little higher, but I get your argument for why you ranked him where you did). Cole Hamels also would be my choice for #2…by a hair….we’ll see what Mr Lee does this year.

  24. The Dipsy

    March 2, 2011 at 11:55 am

    OK, Pub…you can take Chooch ahead of Cole. Good thing you’re not actually starting a team.

    The Dipsy

    • Publius

      March 2, 2011 at 12:17 pm

      Good thing you sign your posts, otherwise I would have no idea who you were.

  25. HughG

    March 2, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Couldn’t agree more Don. Nice work! If you look back to 3 years ago this list probably would have had two pitchers in the mix (Hamels and Lidge) and the rest would have filled out with our infield. Look at the balance we have now (5 pitchers and 5 position players). We have drastically improved our starting rotation since the 08 WS and there is no reason we shouldn’t bring another championship home. Can’t wait for April 1st.

  26. Manny

    March 2, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    I think a good, alternative way of thinking about this would be: if a season-ending injury were to hit any of our current players RIGHT NOW (*knock on wood*), which one would hamper the team’s success the most? It’s basically the same as asking for each of our player’s impact (or WAR, for those who like that stat). Then you’d realize that losing Chooch wouldn’t be as bad as losing Utley, or Howard, or J-roll, or Doc, or Cole, or Lee… Again, I love CHOOCH but please, please, please don’t boo him if he goes back to batting .250. Absolutely amazing 2010, but he’ll need more than one year of stellar performance to convince me (or the MLB Network staff) that he’s a top 100 player right now. Love ya, Chooch –please don’t read this.

  27. Don M

    March 2, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    on the WAR topic . . . . how much does that weigh WINS by a pitcher . .

    Because I would think that a pitcher that threw 208.2 Innings …. Struckout 211 batters … and had a 3.06 ERA

    is a whole hell of a lot more important to a team than a “3.6 WAR” would indicate???
    Wins-Above-Replacement …. This is one of the best pitchers in the game and he only makes a positive impact of 3.6 extra Wins ?? And people wonder why some fans think WAR is a B.S. stat

    Do they punish pitchers who don’t get the W ? Clearly Hamels could’ve/should/ve/would’ve been an 18-20 game winner with a little help from his friends last year … the fact that he only won 12 doesn’t bother me in the least

    • Publius

      March 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm

      Wins are a terrible, awful, no-good stat, and WAR doesn’t incorporate them at all. Bear in mind that 3.7 is pretty darned good (good for 34th in all of baseball). WAR is based on FIP (fielding independent pitching), which is a much better measure of a pitcher’s contribution than ERA. For example, while Cole had an ERA of 3.06, his FIP was 3.67, indicating that he was pitching a little bit above his head, indicated by a higher-than-normal left on base percentage (meaning he allowed fewer runners on to score, which really isn’t a skill but is more luck-based) and a low batting average on balls in play (again, pitchers can’t control this too much, more of an indicator of luck).

      Also, refusing to consider the benefits of a stat because you don’t agree with how it ranks one player is a pretty poor way to evaluate statistics.

      • Chuck

        March 2, 2011 at 1:01 pm

        And refusing to step out out of the SABR-world once in awhile is a pretty poor way to judge baseball players in general.

      • Manny

        March 2, 2011 at 1:02 pm

        But what WAR is saying is that Hamels only was 3.6 wins more than a replacement pitcher (aka some very average pitcher like Kendrick or Worley)… From watching most of the games in the 2010 season, I can tell you that’s not too accurate.

      • Publius

        March 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm

        Hahahaha what? How? What exactly am I missing? It’s not like I’m watching a spreadsheet while you all are watching the games. I watch them too, and SABR stats explain so much more than RBIs, runs, wins and batting average. Sure, its not a perfect correlation, but its a lot better than the more traditional stats. But hey, to each their (obsolete) own.

      • bfo_33

        March 2, 2011 at 1:26 pm

        WAR takes the whole season into account, does not throw out outliers (2 bad starts can drop you a lot), and does not predict trends (a loss in April counts the same as a loss in a Sept pennant race). If you are perfecting a pitch in the spring, and master it by August, WAR doesn’t care. It lumps all the numbers together, measures the season as a whole WAR also severely penalizes against HRs and total baserunners. WAR ignores the defensive ability of a team. If I have a healthy Rollins, I’ll pitch a righty low and in, and have faith Jimmy will get it on the ground. If Scutaro is manning ss, more likely to try to get a strikeout. I think WAR makes a mistake here – a smart pitcher will take a one pitch groundout over a 10 pitch strikeout every time, but WAR favors the strikeout.

        Cole gave up 18 HR in Apr-June, but from Jul through Sept, only another 8. Cole’s WHIP went steadily went down through the season, from 1.47 in Apr to 0.88 in Aug. The second half Cole was one of the top ten pitchers in baseball, the first half, not so much. Averaging it out, he was in the top 3rd starters.

        As any other metric in baseball, it is a place to start, not a true measure of who is best. No one in their right mind is going to take John Lackey over Hamels, but throughout the entire year, Lackey gave the Sox a slightly better chance to win over a replacement player than Hamels gave the Phils.

  28. The Dipsy

    March 2, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Should WAR then someday become the only statistic that is meaningful when judging a player? Maybe, in time, the people from Topps and Fleer could just put the player’s name, picture, and WAR rating on the front of baseball cards and just use the back for advertising and stop wasting space with stats like HRs and stuff.

    While I am sure that there are a lot of nice, smart people that swear by these WAR calculations, I think the practice comes dangerously close to analyzing the game to death. You put Chooch and Cole out in the middle of the field and have ANYONE (accept Publius) have first pick for their team, it would be Cole 1001 times out of 1000.

    The Dipsy

    • Publius

      March 2, 2011 at 1:14 pm

      By no means! WAR is just a good baseline measure when trying to rank relative skills across positions. OBP, SLG and their additive OPS are wonderful measures too, as well as line drive % and bb/k% for batters. For pitchers, xFIP (or adjusted fielding independent pitching), hr/9 (homers given up over 9 innings), bb/k%, k/9 and BABIP are good measures of a pitcher’s true ability.

      When I watch games (and trust me, I do…get them all on mlb.tv since I’m out of the blackout restriction) I look for these things, as well as just enjoy the game in and of itself. But in terms of evaluating players, I just find SABR to explain so much more, like why Adam Dunn is a very good player, despite his putrid batting average, or why J.A. Happ is due for a massive regression (hint: LOB% and k/9%).

      As for Cole over Chooch, the answer there is simple: Chooch is just more valuable because of his position. Outside of McCann, Mauer, Posey and Santana, there just aren’t any catchers who have as much value as chooch. I would choose Ruiz over Cole, simply because there are other pitchers out there who could oost roughly the same line he does, while Chooch’s line and skills at the catching position is rare.

  29. Publius

    March 2, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Manny – good question. Keep in mind that WAR refers to actual wins in the standings, not “wins” in the traditional wins-losses pitching record sense, which granted makes it kinda confusing.

    • Manny

      March 2, 2011 at 1:23 pm

      Thanks for the clarification. I’m generally OK with WAR, and I think it could be very helpful when you’re trying to figure out who’s MVP of the league and big questions like that.. but, in this case, I think that it is a sub-optimal way of classifying/ranking pitchers.

  30. Manny

    March 2, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    For starting pitchers, I love SIERA –I think it accurately shows you who really are the top, valuable, most dominant pitchers in the game. It’ll show you, for example, that Cole’s 2009 wasn’t all that terrible and that luck really killed his numbers (ranked No. 18 in 2009, No.10 in 2010 –among pitchers who pitched at least 150 innings). Greinke was a beast in 09, and he was ranked in the top 5 in 2009. Stuff made sense.

    In 2010, stuff still makes sense. Your top 20 pitchers in 2010 based on SIERA:

    1 Roy Halladay 2.93
    2 Jered Weaver 2.97
    3 Francisco Liriano 3.02
    4 Cliff Lee 3.03
    5 Josh Johnson 3.07
    6 Mat Latos 3.11
    7 Adam Wainwright 3.13
    8 Tim Lincecum 3.16
    9 Felix Hernandez 3.19
    10 Cole Hamels 3.19
    11 Jon Lester 3.2
    12 Ricky Nolasco 3.33
    13 Roy Oswalt 3.33
    14 Yovani Gallardo 3.4
    15 Justin Verlander 3.43
    16 Dan Haren 3.44
    17 Clayton Kershaw 3.47
    18 Colby Lewis 3.5
    19 Hiroki Kuroda 3.57
    20 James Shields 3.57

    As I said before, MAKES SENSE. As Publius pointed out, Cole is 34th in all of baseball according to WAR. That just can’t be a true reflection of the year he had. Please name me the other 33…

    I love SIERA. And I swear it’s NOT because we have 4 pitchers ranked in the top 15… hehe

    • Publius

      March 2, 2011 at 1:24 pm

      Holy cow, SIERA on Phillies Nation…now I’ve seen it all. Nice. SIERA is definitely a better measure that WAR when just looking at pitchers (obviously!). That’s the problem with these lists is that you’re forced to rely on stats that go across all positions.

  31. Chuck

    March 2, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Sabrmetrics is fine. There’s a place for it I suppose and I DO refer to it on occasion (in fact quite often). But some of you (actually Publius) act like it’s the gospel truth and almost REFUSE to look at the more “common way” of evaluating players.

    I remember last year having this argument with one someone else on here (maybe it was actually YOU Publius) about the value of Wilson Valdez to this team during the 2010 season. I forget what the WAR stats were that were thrown out there, but it was basically said that BECAUSE OF HIS LOW WAR that Wilson Valdez was pretty much useless to this team…..that the Phillies could have gotten through the season without him……

    …….and anybody that’s a Phillies fan and that has half a brain knows differently.

    • Publius

      March 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm

      Yeah you pretty much would need to have lost 50% of your brain function to think that Wilson Valdez supplied something crucial to the 2010 team that the likes of, say, Erick Aybar or Paul Janish or Ronny Cedeno couldn’t’ve.

      • Chuck

        March 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm

        Aybar, Cedeno, Janish….nice players all of them…..

        ……but they weren’t on the Phillies last year. Valdez was…..and most Phillies fans recognize what he brought to this team with his style of play and versatility.

        And by the way…..Valdez’ WAR last year was 1.7…

        ….Aybar (.5), Cedeno (.4), Janish (.3)

      • Lefty

        March 2, 2011 at 1:45 pm

        Publius, Seriously?

      • Publius

        March 2, 2011 at 1:50 pm

        Yes Lefty, seriously…and Chuck I’m using Fangraphs WAR, which uses UZR for defense, rather than bb-ref’s dWAR. Still though, my main conclusion is that Wilson Valdez served a useful purpose (he was above replacement-level), but didn’t really provide something that other players of his similar skillset couldn’t…except for maybe more GIDPs

  32. bfo_33

    March 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Reading through the posts, I don’t see where Pub thinks WAR is the be-all, end-all. Like SIERA, x-FIP, even era, it is a useful place to start doing comparisons. WAR is best used when comparing position players, ideally guys playing the same position (I think it overrates certain defensive positions). Sometimes it validates the eye test, some times it make you rethink the value of a player, and other times, it is completely worthless.

    If the Phils were thinking of trading Victorino for Matt Kemp, first thing I would look at is pictures of Rhianna, then go through my admittedly faulty memory banks, then WAR, then break it down from there (age, splits, uzr,…). After all that, I’d take a look at film, read Dodgers web sites,…. All the stats are useful, but none are stand alone.

  33. Lefty

    March 2, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Looks like his be all end all to me –

    “Pretty easy to rank, just look at 2010 WAR:”

    Oh, and it goes without saying that you can’t possibly properly rank a player without checking pictures of Rhianna first.

    • Publius

      March 2, 2011 at 1:48 pm

      Agreed, Rhianna is gorgeous…primarily thanks to her fat/body ratio and VORPS (value over replacement pop-singer…which is pretty much Ke$ha)

      • Lefty

        March 2, 2011 at 1:58 pm

        VORPS- that was a good laugh, thanks

  34. Manny

    March 2, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Who’s that chick Rhianna you guys keep talking about? Is she friends with Cole Hammels?
    JK, obviously.

    Back to work!

  35. Don M

    March 2, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    some players thrive in big moments, on big stages, etc . .

    And to say that Hamels rate of allowing less runners to score that were on base than he normally would have or whatever … Some pitchers focus more and really turn it up a notch when they need to.. I would definitely call that a SKILL .. not luck . . . .

    There are no perfect stats … somebody had the SIERA stuff on here last year and I found that interesting

  36. bfo_33

    March 2, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    I missed that one lefty. The other factor that none of the stats take into account – I like rooting for Wilson Valdez. Compare the 2010 Phils to the 2010 Red Sox or Yanks, we’re fortunate to have a competitive, likable team that has some personality. It doesn’t show in the box score,…, but I can’t bring myself to root for A-Rod, Youkilis, Tex, and even Big Papi has gotten surly.

    Maybe Publius is a bit extreme, but I find value in all the stats, even WAR. Just don’t give any of them 100% credence (Credence? I love Credence…..).

    • Chuck

      March 2, 2011 at 1:58 pm

      A bit extreme?? Why on earth would you say that?

    • Lefty

      March 2, 2011 at 2:01 pm

      I agree completely, all stats have value, but there is a fun factor too.

      Put me in coach, i’m ready to play today, not officially CCR, but close enough.

  37. Don M

    March 2, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    SIERA … question .. Ricky Nolasco was ranked 12th . . with a 3.33

    if you look at WAR.. Nolasco was a 2.5

    But if you look at the “baseball card stats”

    he had an ERA of 4.51… gave up 169 hits in 157.2 innings… Batting Average Against was .273 (up from his career BAA of .263) .. . . so was he a great pitcher and just got unlcky that when they made contract, it dropped for hits all the time??

    Can someone link the SIERA page from last year… Im having a hard time seeing why Nolasco ranked so high

    • Publius

      March 2, 2011 at 2:35 pm

      Don –

      SIERA has a heavy bias favoring strikeout pitchers and those which can avoid walks. Nolasco’s k/bb ratio was 4.45, almost DOUBLE the MLB average. Plus, good catch on his BAA, but a better measure overall for that type of behavior is BABIP (batting average on balls in play), since players can’t really accrue average on strikeouts/walks. Nolasco’s BABIP was .316, about 20 points above average. BABIP is highly determined by luck (since the pitcher can’t really control where the batter hits the ball when he puts it in play). As a result, SIERA looks mainly at groundball percentage, k/bb% and hr%, all of which Nolasco had a very good year with.

  38. The Dipsy

    March 2, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Top five babes I’d like to gitwit RIGHT NOW! (Non Rhianna Division)

    1. Halle Berry
    2. Cate Blanchett
    3. Scarlett Johannsen
    4. Jesse Jane
    5. Clare Danes

    My rankings are based on relative numerical values based on the following categories: pulchritude, legs, chest, rear, trashiness, “wouldja factor”, deviance from societal norms, IIB (imagination in bed), and age.

    The Dipsy

  39. RichieAllen

    March 2, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    In past years ,everyone was saying that JROLL was the essential element in the lineup,the team would go as far as he could take it.
    Now,Chase is the key.Will he be healthy?
    Is there really one guy that carries a team in baseball?Or two?
    Last year,we had 97 wins with a sh….tload of injuries.
    I think we have enough talent to win a hell of a lot of games,and its too early to speculate on injuries.
    Lets go Phils…

  40. bfo_33

    March 2, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    I don’t know Jesse Jane (from the name, guessing porn star). I’d replace Blanchett with Salma Hayek, no arguments on the other 3.

  41. Chuck

    March 2, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Not a big Halle Barry fan. Just me I guess. But I WOULD include Natalie Portman in that list.

  42. The Dipsy

    March 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    I think Salma put on a little weight. 10 years ago? Unbeatable. Which just goes to show how fickle these ratings can be. Jesse Jane is a current actress from the adult film genre and she is pretty much insane. Normally I don’t like to include them but in this case I’ve made an exception.

    The Dipsy

  43. bfo_33

    March 2, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    My kids are now at an age where they are branching out from Pixar to movies with real people, but most of my “cultural” references are still from the 80s and 90s. I have a hard time thinking of Natalie Portman as anything but a kid. I am not prepared to live in a world where Salma Hayek is NOT hot.

    • Chuck

      March 2, 2011 at 3:37 pm

      Natalie Portman is 30 years old. ….amazingly.

      If you want to keep it at women of the more mature variety….thenhow about Heidi Klum??

  44. Don M

    March 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    1. My lovely wife
    2. Bar Refaeli
    3. Halle Berry
    4. Bar Refaeli again
    5. J-Lo (watching American Idol with the wife and J-Lo is alllllllll right!)

    5a,b,c, d, e, etc ..

    Mila Kunis, Kate Beckinsale, Kim Kardashian, Scarlett Johannson, Gabrielle Union, Jenna Fischer, Carrie Underwood

  45. The Dipsy

    March 2, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    I don’t count models because the whole top 50 would be models. Heidi Klum is very close. Perhaps the visual of the scar ravaged Seal impregnating her year after year has turned me off. But I do love her. Don’t worry bfo…Salma is still hot in my book. How about that latin chick from “Modern Family”? Very hot. Kim Kardashian, while hot, is just a full on human semen receptacle. Mila Kunis…mmm…yes, please.

    The Dipsy

    • Chuck

      March 2, 2011 at 4:33 pm

      You don’t count models but porn stars are ok?? Ok, I see where this is going…

      YES to Mila Kunis.

  46. Brian Sr. of CO

    March 2, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    As I am looking at this list, I agree with most of it. I cant say Oswalt would be on the list though, and before I get lambasted for saying that, read this out. Just as Don M. has stated we dont know how long he will be around, HOWEVER, from what he has said, he has anywhere from 1-2 years left. He is under contract in 2011, and has an option for 2012, but he even said he doesnt know if he will even play in 2012. Seeing how not even he thinks he will be playing in 3 years, I wouldnt put him there. If this list was confined to 3 years, and not say 1 or 2, than its iffy. However, he is still great, and if it were starting a team right now, to get you through 1 or 2 years, then of course he is on the list.
    I am not certain of Vic missing the list honestly. I know you said “If he could learn how to freaking bunt”, but the problem I see with that statement is I dont believe it is Vic limiting the use of his speed, and not calling the bunt. The manager and 3rd base coaches usually call bunt. If they arent calling him to bunt, he will go and “swing away”. I still think he would be on the list.

  47. The Dipsy

    March 2, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    The fact that Jimmy and Victorino don’t bunt is absolutely absurd and unforgivable. I don’t know who to blame…the players, Charlie, or both. When you have players like these, players with great speed yet who are not power hitters or hitters of high average, they should be bunting more to get on base. You can’t tell me that these guys, from the time they were in little league on up, have not learned how to bunt. If they can’t bunt, then shame on them and freakin learn. If they can and Charlie doesn’t want them to, then shame on Charlie. Anytime you have an asset that you don’t use, whether it be anything in life, you are shortchanging yourself….in my view. This is like Andy Reid and running backs. He likes to throw to his running backs and Charlie likes to hit homers with his small guys. Don’t try and reinvent the effin game, please. CharlieBall should be tweaked. There are times in a game when the offense should be compartmentalized with the goal being to get a run across with some speed and moving guys as opposed to trying for a lot of runs and winding up with strikeouts and flyouts. I like big innings, believe me. Don’t give me injuries. The Yankees do it. The BoSox do it. The Giants did it and we did it in 09! Look at pitches. Get into other teams crappy bullpens. Hit and run. Drag bunt. Death by inches. Learn how to do it so when you have to you can!

    The Dipsy

    • Manny

      March 3, 2011 at 10:03 am

      Shane bunted for a single to lead off an inning yesterday…

      Good sign?

    • Brian Sr. of CO

      March 3, 2011 at 4:34 pm

      You simply cant tell me that these players “have not learned how to bunt”. They are professionals, both are All Stars, though thats doesnt really prove much anymore, however J-Roll is a former MVP. I think its “CharlieBall”. What he has done for Phillies Baseball is great, but I agree, a little tweak for some small ball, I dont think could hurt. However, that could work fine for Vic still, J-Roll, I am not sure he still has the speed for that stuff like he did a few years back, but I am also basing that off of what he did last season with several recurring injuries.

  48. Rando

    March 2, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    Agree 100% re Hamels. His turnaround–despite some rotten offensive support–last year showed major growth. Unless Howard goes back to being a HR and RBI machine instead of the highest paid singles-hitter (not to mention one of the highest K numbers too) in baseball, I wouldnt put him in my top ten let alone HOF. And Madson–Mr Give-Up-Walk-Off-HR? Sorry, way to unreliable.

    • Chuck

      March 2, 2011 at 10:10 pm

      So if you’re leaving Howard and Madson off who do you put on?? And if it had to be another relief pitcher instead of Madson who would you take?

  49. betasigmadeltashag

    March 2, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Really Rando, Madson who the inning before shut down three of the best hitters on the team, then gives up a fly ball bank HR on what was a pretty good pitch, you are basing on that one thing. And Ryan missed a month with a torn up ankle, so it was really like 2 months, even though he was playing ;you could tell he was not comfortable. Still hit over 30 HR and drove in 110(?) that is not good enough for you. Right before he got hurt he was starting to heat up also.
    To rate the top ten is tough because you have the 4 Aces, if one goes down for any amount of time you are still deep enough in your starting rotation to win games. And I think last year proved you can lose one of the top 3 of Ryan, Chase and Jimmy for about half the season and still manage to win games. I really like Chase and Jimmy, but I think if Howard goes down for an extended period of time it will hurt the most.
    So for me it would be


  50. betasigmadeltashag

    March 2, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    That should say Dom
    I forget Lee who should be behind Cole and above Jimmy

  51. Chuck

    March 2, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Dipsy, check this out. It’s almost as though these guys read your comments (which I agree with).


  52. Brad54

    March 2, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    The disrespect for Chase Utley on here is incredible. Guess you guys will never fully appreciate how good he really is.

  53. Don M

    March 3, 2011 at 8:37 am

    It seems to me that Chase Utley could walk around the streets of Philadelphia PUNCHING BABIES … and people would talk about how focused he looked, and he’s such a gamer, etc . . . This guy can seemingly do no wrong.

    I’m definitely on record as NOT having a love affair with Utley the way that most of our fans do.. I’m very glad he’s on our team , but people need to seriously relax with the “Greatest 2nd baseman of All Time” kinda talk

    Utley has worked hard on his defense, but is far from Roberto Alomar …. He can definitely swing the lumber, but has seen his Batting Average, Slugging Percentage, and OnBase + Slugging drop in each of the past four seasons !!…

    He’s now a career .293 hitter, with 177 HRs and 650 RBI ….. so I’m PRETTY sure that he gets way MORE appreciation than he actually deserves, so your comment is off base by a lot

  54. Chuck

    March 3, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Yeah, this Chase Utley “can do no wrong” thing makes me sick. Why is it that someone else like Raul Ibanez, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels in 2009, Jayson Werth last year can struggle and get LAMBASTED by the fans, the news media and everybody else…..but Mr. Golden Boy Chase Utley gets a pass all the time??

    Someone (Tom Byrne I think) on 97.5 actually addressd this last night on the radio. FINALLY someone had the ba!!s to rip the whole notion of Chase Utley being the greatest player to ever put on a Phillies uniform. It was refreshing and validating….becasue, quite honestly, I was beginning to think that I was crazy for feeling the way I do.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love Chase Utley and am also fglad he’s a Phillie. But for those of you that really think that Chase Utley is HOF-bound….you may want to re-evaluate that. Unless he magically really starts piling up the stats, which at his age probably isn’t going to happen.

  55. Don M

    March 3, 2011 at 10:21 am


    I saw that too and thought it was funny . . . Charlie Manuel must read PhilliesNation!!!
    I’ve been complaining about Vic’s lack of skill-usage (is that even a word/phrase?)… and last weekend I watched the DVD – 2008 WORLD SERIES (not A PERFECT SEASON.. but the other one).. and they have Victorino mic’d and he’s talking to anyone and everyone about how he can’t bunt because he never tries to do it !??

    You’re one of the fastest players in the game… you aren’t a big guy, and shouldn’t be swinging for the fences.. but you NEVER really try to bunt?? … Among my biggest arguements for him increasing his bunt attempts (besides the fact that he’ll get some hits from it) .. is that it will force the corner Infielders IN – which would create some biggger holes for him to shoot ground balls through ….

    Jayson Stark was on with Mike Missinelli yesterday and made a good point though .. “How much is he going to be able to bunt from the 7-hole?” …….

    But then that all goes back to my belief that Victorino should leadoff.. and Rollins should bat 5th … ugghh!

  56. Lefty

    March 3, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks for the link Don. Stark doesn’t paint a rosy picture about Utley’s injury at all. I hope they give these guys Orr and Barfield a solid look, might actually need them.

    Delwyn (the guy is this year’s big hit in the Phillies.com comments) is hitting pretty well, but he hasn’t played 2B in a number of years.

    • Chuck

      March 3, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      If Jayson Stark said it, I tend to believe it….at least MOST of the time.

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